From A Level Geography in Penzance to Monitoring Climate from Space.

Former Penwith College student Abigail Waring from Penzance is working to close the Earth’s energy budget after being accepted to study a PhD at the University of Leicester.

Climate change is an important issue and we are hearing all about it with the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). Abigail’s future studies around the Earth and the climate will work towards the changes that are needing to be made.  

After completing her degree, Abigail found herself working full time at the Royal Cornwall Hospital to save for her master's degree in Polar and Alpine Climate Change, at Sheffield University. She was lucky enough to gain a £10,000 scholarship from the University of Sheffield, not only due to her grades at degree level but also her huge passion and motivation for the course. 

The master's degree allowed her to expand her knowledge in the science behind tornadoes and hurricanes as well as both atmospheric and oceanic interactions and factors that drive the climate system; polar climate, glaciers and the physics and chemistry behind them. 

Abigail has since been accepted to study a fully funded PhD at the University of Leicester in the Physics and Astronomy department studying climate from space. While completing her PhD, Abigail is aiming to close the Earth's energy budget through land surface temperature monitoring from Space. 

“I have always been interested in extreme climate and weather because I’ve been fascinated by the science behind how things occur and change. My passion for weather climate and space has driven me to keep going and study further.” 

While at Penwith College, Abigail studied a programme of A levels made up of English Literature, Philosophy, Geography and Environmental Science, achieving grade A’s and A*’s. She went on to do a degree at Reading University majoring in Climate Science and Meteorology. 

Rachel Botterill, Abigail’s Tutor and A level Geography Lecturer at Penwith College, received thanks from Abigail. She said: “Rachel was key to my drive as she never stopped supporting me. She was the first teacher to ever support me and I could not have done any of this without her. 

I rarely had any one-to-one support in school or at home so knowing that someone believed in me meant that I learned to believe in myself.

Abigail Waring.

Now well into her fully funded PhD, she is studying modules which have allowed her to apply this knowledge to other planets and look at glaciers on Mars, geomorphology of Jupiter's moons and atmospheric conditions of lightning on Venus. 

Abigail said: “I feel really grateful and humbled for this opportunity.” 

On completion of the PhD, Abigail hopes to be able to go to work with the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica to help with in-situ research. 

A long-term career goal for Abigail is to be a climate scientist that monitors the cryosphere from space with the European Space Agency or the National Centre for Earth Observation, both of which she will work with as part of her PhD. 

So, there it is. From A Level Geography in Penzance to studying climate from space – that’s one giant leap for a Penwithian!